Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Number 42, the meaning for everything

I can remember reading the "hitchhikers guide to the galaxy", by Douglas Adams and been amazed at how a computer could after 7.5 million of year compute the "The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything" with the answer "42".
I thought that this was hilariously funny. Lttle did I realise latter that Douglas was an atheist. So much so, that Richard Dawkins dedicated his book "The God Delusion" to Adams, using his quote::
"Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"

It seems to me that maybe Adams was having a bit of a go at people who believed with his number "42". I still think it is very funny.

A question which has rattled me this year has been. Is it possible for non-believers, athiest and agnostics to take small steps back into community of faith? Let me explain.
I started thinking about this with the reading of Chaim Potok's, "The Chosen". A question is asked by the main character Reuven Malter who is studying to become an Orthodox Rabbi to his father who is a Jewish academic on modern methods of studying the Talmud. I cannot remember the exact question but it is to do with an acquaintance Abraham Gordon, a well-known author who has been excommunicated by the very Orthodox for his books which question the very foundations of traditional Judaism. Abraham Gordon would be the Christian equivalent to Shelby Spong or Paul Tillich.
Reuven's father answers the question regarding Abraham Gorden saying that, and I paraphrase. Abraham Gordon's writing is important because it helps those who cannot believe, believe. (or it may have been: those who believe stay within their community)
I have many sincere atheist and agnostic friends, who have tried to believe. It is, and I believe them, something which is not just turned on like a tap.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Gordon/Spong/Tillich also function the other way, I think - a step toward unbelief on the part of believers. I don't mean that polemically - there's people who steadfastly hold to a liberal theology permanently. But I can just imagine that for me and others like me coming from evangelicalism, it could be a stepping stone toward agnosticism. I love the Chosen; studied it in year 11 Lit. One of the first serious novels I read.

Scott said...

Yes good point Nathan. I am sure there have been many who have gone down the slippery slope. I'm thinking of addressing it in a latter post.
By the way, I've ordered your book at the local library. Looking forward to the read!

urbanmonk said...

amen brother